The role of communication transparency and organizational trust in publics' perceptions, attitudes and social distancing behaviour: A case study of the COVID-19 outbreak

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8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Integrating social cognitive theory and public relations literature, this study examines the effectiveness of organizations' transparent communication in building public trust and encouraging health-protection behaviours (i.e. social distancing) during a pandemic, that is, the COVID-19 outbreak. Three aspects of transparent communication are investigated, namely information substantiality, accountability and participation. Results of an online survey of American citizens show that during the early stage of COVID-19, information substantiality by state governments and health institutes (e.g., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) increases publics' trust, which positively influences their perceived risks, behavioural control and subjective norms. The participation of health institutes, rather than state governments, significantly increases public trust, whereas accountability has no effects. Individuals' perceptions and attitudes towards social distancing predict their social distancing behaviour during the outbreak. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-384
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19 outbreak
  • organizational trust
  • perceived risks
  • social cognitive theory
  • social distancing
  • transparent communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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